Unity Spans the Globe for Viacommunity Day’s 21st Year

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Lisa Di Venuta contributed reporting.

In an enormous show of support for local communities around the world, more than 4,000 Viacom employees threw themselves into the 21st annual Viacommunity Day last Friday. It was themed as a day of unity, bringing employees from every part of the company together at more than 150 projects sites across the United States and more than a dozen other nations, a collective effort that underscored Viacom’s unwavering dedication to putting our resources, skills, energies and collective will toward improving our communities.

“Viacommunity has a long legacy with our company,” said Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish, standing among a group of employees outside of a Boys & Girls Club in New Rochelle, 20 miles north of Times Square in the New York City suburbs. “I remember when I joined the company in 1997 in the early days of Viacommunity, and it’s always been a day, throughout different management teams, throughout different phases of the media business, where we would take a day and allow people to give back to their communities. This is all evidence that communities matter. That’s what Viacommunity is all about.”

 

Viacommunity Day 2017 Recap Video from Viacom on Vimeo.

Support for the effort transcended our employee ranks, reaching into the celebrity Twittersphere:

Events began early in the morning, spreading west from our outposts in Asia and Australia and following the sun across Europe and Africa and then jumping the Atlantic. The Viacommunity spirit rippled from the five boroughs of New York City and across the suburbs, west to Tennessee and finally California, where Paramount locked in the Viacommunity Day Cup for the second consecutive year.

Below is just a small sampling of the energy, enthusiasm, and effort that our volunteers injected into their communities over the course of a single day.

A Viacom employee gets psyched for Viacommunity Day 2017 in front of Viacom's Times Square headquarters.

A Viacom employee gets psyched for Viacommunity Day 2017 in front of 1515 Broadway.

CALIFORNIA – Paramount Repeats as Viacommunity Day Cup Champions

With the highest percentage of employees participating in Viacommunity Day out of any Viacom division, Paramount locked in the Viacommunity Day Cup for the second consecutive year. Employees had spent the past 12 months passing their prize around, Stanley Cup style, with different groups holding the trophy for a week at a time. Taking the cup again is a testament to how deeply entrenched the Viacommunity spirit is on the lot, where longstanding relationships with local schools and organizations fuse with individual efforts to create an atmosphere rich with giving.

The Fulfillment Fund

The commitment was evident on Paramount’s Hollywood lot on Friday morning, when a bus pulled in to pick up more than two dozen employee volunteers. It was already loaded with 25 students and four chaperones from Alexander Hamilton High School in west Los Angeles. They were headed six miles south, beneath the 10 freeway and to the campus of the University of Southern California (USC). On a separate bus, 25 Viacom employees were heading in the same direction from the company’s shiny new Hollywood building, stopping to pick up an additional 17 students from Helen Bernstein High School before rendezvousing at the university.

The Fulfillment Fund, an organization that focuses on orienting high-risk students toward college, was way ahead of both groups. They’d set up a unique tour: a campus-wide scavenger hunt for groups of students and volunteer mentors to navigate together. What’s the name of the campus bookstore? Which year was the arts building dedicated? Which years did USC football win the Rose Bowl? Four versions of the hunt helped to disperse the laughing, giddy students across the hot campus and avoid overcrowding at any one site.

Among the Viacom and Paramount volunteers were seven USC alumni and at least two graduates of Hamilton High School. Site captain Lori Nakama, a director of creative services for digital and television distribution in home media who was participating in her seventh Viacommunity Day, was among them.

“This is one of my favorite days of the year,” she said. “I love getting to work with people in the company that I don’t normally get to talk to. We’re so busy here that, a lot of times, I don’t leave my desk. So I don’t get to meet somebody who works in theatrical, or in finance, or in theatrical finance. So at Viacommunity Day, you not only are building a community within the community, but a community within the company.”

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Paramount’s Kevin Chalk Is Getting L.A.’s Homeless Population Back on Their Feet

At 4:40 a.m., Paramount employee Kevin Chalk’s alarm goes off. He puts on running clothes and sneakers and is out the door in 30 minutes. He’s on his way to Los Angeles’s infamous skid row.

It’s certainly an odd choice for a morning jog. But Chalk is a volunteer at Back on My Feet, a nonprofit that combats homelessness through the power of running, community support and essential employment and housing resources.

Chalk’s morning itinerary is precise and consistent, much like the training regimen of a seasoned athlete. By 5:25, Chalk is driving past makeshift tents in the impoverished neighborhood. Skid row has the highest concentration of homelessness in the nation—in just one square mile, over 2,000 people live in squalor.

Chalk steps out of his car and is struck by the putrid odor of synthetic marijuana, or spice. Spice is a cheap (albeit potentially lethal) high, making homeless residents an easy target for dealers. The toxic stench grows stronger as Chalk walks towards the Mission. He weaves in between tarps draped over fences, derelict buildings and throngs of families and neighbors huddled beneath threadbare blankets.

Rap music blasts from set of speakers in one tent, while 70s soul blares from a car radio. It’s barely dawn. There are men, women, and children of all ages mingling in the streets amidst rats and tumbleweeds of trash.

Skid Row

Skid Row in Los Angeles. Photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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A Closed Fist Gets You Nothing: Nickelodeon’s Gerald Yarborough Finds a Path to His Dreams

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

“Follow your dreams. Do what you want to do. Don’t screw up.”

These were among the last words Gerald Yarborough’s mother had spoken to him before she passed away, and they had been his motivation through his adult life. It was late 1998, and he was a freshman at St. John’s University, settling into his studies as a pharmacy major. He had everything lined up: a five-year scholarship with a good-paying job in a high-demand field likely upon graduation. Yet, his mother’s directive was persistent.

He was not following his dreams. He was not living his purpose. He felt this more strongly every day. Pharmaceuticals just wasn’t for him. He felt as though he was wasting his true gift: art.

So that is where he focused his full energies: his art electives. But after one year, St. John’s warned him that if he did not start taking sciences courses, he would lose his scholarship.

His mother’s simple proclamation gnawing at him, uncertain where to go, he left school instead of falling into debt with student loans. He told himself that if art was his true purpose in life, God would make a way. It appeared as though school was no longer in his plan. So he joined Geico, working in customer service.

He would spend the next three years there. But those last words from his mother hung with him, refusing to let his dreams dry up.

While he once struggled to find his purpose in school, Gerald Yarborough now devotes time to helping others see their own potential.

While he once struggled to find his purpose in school, Gerald Yarborough now devotes time to helping others see their own potential.

Helping others find their dreams

His name was Jonathan.

Gerald had met him at Nassau County Correctional Facility. They had encountered one another there many times before, Jonathan as the inmate, Gerald a visitor.

“I was doing good until somebody called the cops,” Jonathan would say.

“If you wouldn’t have been doing that, nobody would have called the police,” Gerald would counter.

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From Children’s Wellness to Aircraft Carrier Maintenance, Chryssi Mikus Is Here to Help

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Chryssi Mikus has a long and ongoing relationship with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, working to secure donations and auction items for large fundraisers. In 2015, she traveled to the center’s flagship institution in Memphis, Tennessee. She sits on the Friends of St. Jude committee, a group that brainstorms new fundraising opportunities and identifies potential new community or corporate partners.

While such dedication to the St. Jude’s cause might suggest some sort of full-time commitment to the organization, Mikus is actually a senior manager in Viacom’s Marketing & Partner Insights group, working across all of the company’s networks. Her expansive contributions to St. Jude are entirely voluntary.

“I think it’s important to give back, especially to causes you’re passionate about, whether it’s children or animals or the elderly,” Mikus says.

Chryssi Mikus has had a long relationship with St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Here she stands in front of the center’s flagship in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Viacom’s Sarah Nix Is HERE to Give Back to Her Community

She grew up as a Girl Scout and a Special Olympics volunteer whose father donated to United Way and passed his spare change to panhandlers on family trips into Manhattan from suburban Sleepy Hollow, New York. As an adult, she set up charity galas, helped manage amfAR’s silent auction to benefit HIV prevention, and joined the planning board for the National Hemophilia Foundation’s silent auction, Denim and Diamonds.
Still, something was missing from this life of community engagement. “You don’t have the direct service element,” said Nix.

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Viacommunity Day 2016: Check out Our Employees in Action

​​Viacom offices are usually clamoring with activity, but not on May 20, 2016. Instead, our employees across the country and around the globe left their desks, shut down their computers, and set off to put our corporate values into action. Here’s a loo​k at how they turned up for good on the 20th anniversary of Viacommunity Day.

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A Global Effort Puts an Exclamation Point on Viacommunity’s 20th Anniversary

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Reporting by Stuart Winchester & Lisa Di Venuta

VH1 Save The Music 2
VH1 Save The Music 2
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Viacommunity volunteers help teach young kids the art of music production. Read More

VH1 Save The Music 1
VH1 Save The Music 1
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VH1 Save The Music Foundation aims to bring music back into schools across America. Read More

VH1 Save The Music 3
VH1 Save The Music 3
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A volunteer helps train a budding musician. Read More

Catchafire 1
Catchafire 1
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Viacom employees volunteer their expertise in areas like marketing, legal, and leadership at the Catchafire phone-a-thon. Read More

Catchafire 2
Catchafire 2
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Philippe Dauman is one of many Viacommunity volunteers offering skill-based advice during the Catchafire phone-a-thon. Read More

Catchafire 3
Catchafire 3
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Philippe Dauman donates his time by giving professional advice at the Catchafire phone-a-thon. Read More

Catchafire 4
Catchafire 4
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An employee uses his professional skill set to help others at the Catchafire phone-a-thon. Read More

Children of Promise 1
Children of Promise 1
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Kids have a blast playing with Viacommunity volunteers at the Brooklyn-based nonprofit, Children of Promise. Read More

Children of Promise 2
Children of Promise 2
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A Viacommunity volunteer shares her dance moves with a child at the Brooklyn-based nonprofit, Children of Promise. Read More

Children of Promise 3
Children of Promise 3
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Kids have a blast playing with Viacommunity volunteers at the Brooklyn-based nonprofit, Children of Promise. Read More

Children of Promise 4
Children of Promise 4
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A boy shows off his skills at the Brooklyn-based nonprofit, Children of Promise, on Viacommunity Day. Read More

City Parks Fdn 1
City Parks Fdn 1
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Viacommunity volunteers work on beatifying the grounds at the City Parks Foundation in Manhattan. Read More

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City Parks Fdn 2
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Viacommunity volunteers work on beatifying the grounds at the City Parks Foundation in Manhattan. Read More

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City Parks Fdn 3
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Philippe Dauman and a volunteer check out the progress at the City Parks Foundation in Manhattan. Read More

Free Arts NYC 3
Free Arts NYC 3
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The Free Arts NYC Viacommunity Day site captain poses in front of art work from the day. Read More

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Free Arts NYC 36 1
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Free Arts NYC is a Manhattan-based nonprofit which gives undeserved children and families a unique combination of educational arts and mentoring programs. Read More

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Free Arts NYC 36 2
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Viacommunity volunteers work on projects at Free Arts NYC. Read More

Grace Institute 1
Grace Institute 1
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Viacommunity volunteers at the Grace Institute in Manhattan, a nonprofit providing disadvantaged women tuition-free job training and job placement assistance. Read More

Grace Institute 2
Grace Institute 2
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Viacommunity volunteers at the Grace Institute in Manhattan, a nonprofit providing disadvantaged women tuition-free job training and job placement assistance. Read More

Grace Institute 3
Grace Institute 3
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Viacommunity volunteers at the Grace Institute in Manhattan, a nonprofit providing disadvantaged women tuition-free job training and job placement assistance. Read More

Hip Hop 4 Life 1
Hip Hop 4 Life 1
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Viacommunity volunteers practice a routine with kids at Hip Hop 4 Life, a Manhattan-based youth organization focused on positive youth development. Read More

Hip Hop 4 Life 2
Hip Hop 4 Life 2
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Viacommunity volunteers, including Philippe Dauman, are impressed with the dance moves at Hip Hop 4 Life. Read More

Hip Hop 4 Life 3
Hip Hop 4 Life 3
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A volunteer and mentee share an inspiring moment at Hip Hop 4 Life. Read More

Human Society of NY 3
Human Society of NY 3
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A Viacommunity volunteer scrubs the walls at the Humane Society of New York. Read More

Humane Society of NY 2
Humane Society of NY 2
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Viacom employees are grateful to make a difference in this young pup's life at the Humane Society of New York. Read More

Humane Society of NY 3
Humane Society of NY 3
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Viacommunity volunteers help out at the Humane Society of New York. Read More

North Shore Hore Rescue 1
North Shore Hore Rescue 1
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Long Island's North Shore Horse Rescue cares for neglected, abused, or abandoned horses. Read More

North Shore Horse Rescue 3
North Shore Horse Rescue 3
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Viacommunity volunteers care for a horse at Long Island's North Shore Horse Rescue. Read More

Robert Moses State Park 1
Robert Moses State Park 1
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Viacom employees spruce up the Robert Moses State Park on Long Island. Read More

Robert Moses State Park 2
Robert Moses State Park 2
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Viacom employees spruce up the Robert Moses State Park on Long Island. Read More

Robert Moses State Park 3
Robert Moses State Park 3
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A group of proud Viacommunity volunteers at Robert Moses State Park on Long Island. Read More

Stop Hunger Now 2
Stop Hunger Now 2
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Stop Hunger Now gets food and life-saving aid to the world’s most vulnerable people, and works to end global hunger in our lifetime. Read More

Stop Hunger Now 3
Stop Hunger Now 3
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The Viacommunity captain for Stop Hunger Now prepares boxes of food for humanitarian relief. Read More

The Trevor Project 1
The Trevor Project 1
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Viacommunity volunteers at the Trevor Project, a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth. Read More

The Trevor Project 2
The Trevor Project 2
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Viacommunity volunteers at the Trevor Project, a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth. Read More

TMNT 1
TMNT 1
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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles share the Viacommunity spirit with special-needs children at the Opportunity Preschool on Long Island. Read More

TMNT 2
TMNT 2
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Local children strike a pose with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles this Viacommunity Day. Read More

TMNT 3
TMNT 3
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Donatello and Leonardo pose with two young fans at the Opportunity Preschool on Long Island. Read More

TMNT 4
TMNT 4
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Donatello plays around with a Viacommunity volunteer and students at the Opportunity Preschool. Read More

TMNT 5
TMNT 5
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Parents and students at the Opportunity Preschool are thrilled to spend time with the Turtles. Read More

TMNT 6
TMNT 6
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Viacommunity volunteers, Donatello, and Leonardo helped out at the Opportunity Preschool on Long Island. Read More

Union Settlement 3
Union Settlement 3
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A Viacommunity volunteer helps out at Union Settlement, a nonprofit focused on empowering East Harlem residents of all ages. Read More

Boys and Girls Club New Rochelle
Boys and Girls Club New Rochelle
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A group of Viacom employees dedicated their time to brighten up the Remington Clubhouse gymnasium at the New Rochelle Boys and Girls Club. Read More

A Viacommunity volunteer paints the Remi…
A Viacommunity volunteer paints the Remi…
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A Viacommunity volunteer paints the Remington Clubhouse gymnasium at the New Rochelle Boys and Girls Club. Read More

A group of Viacom employees dedicated th…
A group of Viacom employees dedicated th…
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A group of Viacom employees dedicated their time to brighten up the Remington Clubhouse gymnasium at the New Rochelle Boys and Girls Club. Read More

A Viacommunity volunteer repairs a warpe…
A Viacommunity volunteer repairs a warpe…
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A Viacommunity volunteer repairs a warped walkway at the Westchester-based Greenburgh Nature Center. Read More

Viacommunity volunteers weed out invasiv…
Viacommunity volunteers weed out invasiv…
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Viacommunity volunteers weed out invasive plants at the Greenburgh Nature Center using a tool called the "gutbuster". Read More

Viacommunity volunteers get to work revi…
Viacommunity volunteers get to work revi…
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Viacommunity volunteers get to work revitalizing the Greenburgh Nature Center. Read More

St. Nicks
St. Nicks
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This hill is steeper than it looks! Viacom volunteers work with the Chris Canty Foundation and Partnership for Parks to plant trees at St. Nicholas Park in upper Manhattan Read More

 

 

 

 

Thousands of Viacom employees spread out through communities around the world last Friday, making an emphatic endorsement of the core company value of giving back. In a global arc spanning from Europe down through Africa, from Singapore and Australia to Mexico and throughout the United States, Viacom’s operations took a collective breath to clean parks, prepare meals, offer advice and help out in countless other ways as the organization celebrated the 20th anniversary of Viacommunity.

“We need to be a part of the communities we live in,” said Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, who dropped in on several sites around New York City on Friday. “It’s one of our Viacom values, which is to do good, and I think everybody has a responsibility to do that. I hope that we inspire a lot of people to do more during the course of their lives, and we’ll make them better people and better employees, because living those kinds of values outside of work helps you do a better job at work.”

PARAMOUNT TAKES THE INAUGURAL VIACOMMUNITY DAY CUP WITH GLOBAL EFFORT

Paramount employees spread across 13 countries and six U.S. cities, from San Diego and L.A. on the West Coast to Rogers, Arkansas, Coconut Creek, Florida, and Atlanta in the South to Columbus, Ohio in the Midwest – 1,125 volunteers altogether. It was enough to add the Viacommunity Day Cup to the Paramount’s already bulging trophy case, as that number gave them the highest percentage of any company division to sign up for a project. The trophy is theirs for one year – although another division will have a chance to steal it from them by rallying more employees to participate in Viacommunity Day 2017.

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#ViacommunityDay VMA Trip Winner Is Katie Maggio

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom
Katie and the other Viacommunity volunteers pose with one of the bideawee pups they spent the day with.

Katie and the other Viacommunity volunteers pose with one of the bideawee pups they spent the day with.

Viacom employees flooded their followers’ newsfeeds with more than 1,800 Twitter and Instagram posts flooded on May 15, answering our call to share their Viacommunity Day experiences with the wider world using the #ViacommunityDay. As of our latest count, this lead to 31,500 likes, comments and shares – more than 2.6 times last year’s engagement. Read More

Being The Difference on Viacommunity Day

by David Corpuz, Social Responsibility

Viacommunity Day 2015 Montage

On May 15, Viacom employees around the world put on their out-of-office autoreplies and volunteered at local projects on Viacommunity Day, the company’s annual day of volunteer service.  Whether it was beautifying parks and schools, helping the elderly and underprivileged, being a companion to animals in shelters, or mentoring young people, thousands of our employees came together to be the difference. Beyond the collective impact of the day, the objective is to inspire employees to get involved with participating nonprofits and organizations year-round in a deeper way.  In New York City alone, Viacom employees volunteered at more than 50 organizations, including, Literacy Inc., Central Park Conservancy, Friends of Hudson River Park, Inner City Scholarship Fund, Soaringwords, SAGE, Food Bank of NYC, the Humane Society, and much more. Read More

CEO Philippe Dauman, Viacom Employees Ring NASDAQ Opening Bell

by Daina Amorosano, Viacom

This Friday, the majority of Viacom employees put on their out-of-office autoreplies, made their way to a community service project of choice, and rolled up their sleeves to do something good – as is tradition on Viacommunity Day, our company-wide day to give back. All around the world, droves of Viacom employees dispersed across hundreds of volunteer sites — another year of record numbers, as participation steadily grows.  This year, employees worked on everything from packing goody bags for Boston First Responders, to rebuilding sites still devastated from Hurricane Sandy, and conducting mock interviews for the unemployed in need of such training.

In honor of Viacom’s service on Viacommunity Day, Viacom President and Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman and a group of employees rang the NASDAQ opening bell Monday morning. Following the bell ringing, I sat down with Dauman to hear his take on the Company’s corporate conscience and why this day of service is so important. Here’s what he had to say. Read More